As we age, there is a significant loss of grey matter volume in multiple areas of the brain resulting in loss of function associated with those specific areas. Age-associated grey matter decline is significant in the memory centers of the brain, the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex leading to dementia. Aging process also affects normal cerebral blood flow that in turn triggers the grey matter loss and dysfunction. While there is no drug to stop this natural age-associated loss of brain cells, meditation actually helps to delay the age-associated loss by strengthening those areas. The widespread effect of meditation throughout the entire brain may partly explain the brain’s resilience exhibited by seasoned meditators.
This effect of meditation on reversing/delaying grey matter volume triggers favorable functional outcomes as well. There is very good evidence for concomitant functional changes in brain with meditation, with studies reporting that meditation a) helps to relieve chronic stress, anxiety and depression, b) curbs inflammation, c) improves attention and concentration, and d) promotes overall psychological wellbeing. Most of these functions are associated with the grey matter. Recent research studies point to meditation’s therapeutic benefit in lowering stress and curbing chronic inflammatory response. The health benefits from meditation are so striking that researchers are swearing by it and more clinicians are recommending this practice to their patients.